Regulator's former chief questions credentials of likely new chair

Andrew Hind writes to the chair of the committee that is due to rubber-stamp the appointment of Baroness Stowell to the Charity Commission, saying her fit with the person specification is poor

Andrew Hind
Andrew Hind

Andrew Hind, a former chief executive of the Charity Commission, has questioned whether it is in the public interest for the Conservative peer Baroness Stowell to be appointed as the next chair of the regulator.

The Conservative peer Stowell, a former leader of the House of Lords, is due to be rubber-stamped as the next chair of the Charity Commission at a pre-appointment hearing with MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee tomorrow.

She has said she would resign the party whip if she was confirmed in the post.

But Hind, who was chief executive of the regulator between 2004 and 2010, has written to Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS select committee, raising concerns about Stowell’s political connections and questioning whether she is the best person for the job.

Hind’s letter says Stowell’s "fit with the published person specification is poor" and she has little direct experience of either charities or regulation.

"I urge committee members to explore how it can be in the public interest for Baroness Stowell to be confirmed in post when at least one other candidate in the public appointments process, with outstanding experience of both charities and regulation, has been overlooked," his letter says. "Perhaps it is because that individual has no political connections?"

Hind told Third Sector he was not at liberty to name the other candidate.

He said he had no personal quibble with Stowell, but it was unrealistic to expect that someone with her track record could just become independent of party politics.

"We are talking about one of the pre-eminent Conservative Party politicians of recent years, and I cannot see how you can just say ‘I am resigning the party whip, I am completely neutral’," he said.

In his letter, Hind says the recent scandals about Oxfam and the Presidents Club underlined the need for the regulator to be perceived as unbiased and independent from government and party politics.

"I ask the select committee to keep front-of-mind the long-term credibility and legitimacy of the Charity Commission," the letter concludes.

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